Each foot contains two arches formed by 26 bones which are held by the shape that they fit and fibrous tissues (ligaments) that hold the bones to each other. The length of the foot is run by a longitudinal arch while the width of the foot is governed by the transverse arch. The foot’s muscles are supported by a tough, sinewy tissue called the plantar fascia while fat pads absorb impact and bear weight. Pain in the foot’s arch can occur when something goes wrong with the interaction or function of any of these structures.

Common symptoms of arch pain include inflammation, redness, heat, localized pain in the ball of the foot, aching, increased pain when standing, walking barefoot or on hard surfaces, sharp or shooting pain in the toes, tingling or numbness in the toes, skin lesions, stronger pain after sleeping or resting or experiencing a burning sensation in the foot.

A common cause of arch pain includes plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue. Arch pain from plantar fasciitis comes from the plantar fascia feeling tight and contracted during sleep and periods of rest. When walking or standing for long periods of time, the plantar fascia winds up feeling painful and enflamed. Another common reason for arch pain is that there is too much pressure being placed on the feet. This extra pressure is most commonly experienced by athletes but can also come from lifting heavy objects, walking for long distances, and even extra weight gain such as pregnancy or obesity.

A common way to treat arch pain is the RICE method (Rest Ice Compression and Elevation). Rest allows the tissues to heal themselves by preventing further stress to the affected area. Over the counter medication such as acetaminophen and/or non-steroidal inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen may also work.

To prevent arch pain from occurring, choose shoes that provide good arch and heel support while avoiding activities that place undue stress on your foot. Stretching exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the foot may also work as well. In more severe cases, therapy may provide relief to arch pain.